Warrior (2011)


Warrior (2011)

Two brothers face the fight of a lifetime - and the wreckage of their broken family - within the brutal, high-stakes world of Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) fighting in Lionsgate's action/drama, WARRIOR. A former Marine, haunted by a tragic past, Tommy Riordan returns to his hometown of Pittsburgh and enlists his father, a recovered alcoholic and his former coach, to train him for an MMA tournament awarding the biggest purse in the history of the sport. As Tommy blazes a violent path towards the title prize, his brother, Brendan, a former MMA fighter unable to make ends meet as a public school teacher, returns to the amateur ring to provide for his family. Even though years have passed, recriminations and past betrayals keep Brendan bitterly estranged from both Tommy and his father. But when Brendan's unlikely rise as an underdog sets him on a collision course with Tommy, the two brothers must finally confront the forces that tore them apart, all the while waging the most intense, ...
IMDb   8.2 /10
Metacritic   71 %
TheMovieDb    7.8 /10
FilmAffinity   7.4 /10
Release Date2011-09-09
Runtime2h 20mins
GenreAction, Drama, Sport
Content RatingPG-13 (PG-13)
AwardsTop Rated Movies #164 | Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 5 wins & 21 nominations.
CompanyLionsgate, Mimran Schur Pictures, Solaris
LanguageEnglish, Spanish
Brendan Conlon
Tommy Conlon
Paddy Conlon
Frank Campana
Principal Zito
Colt Boyd (as Maximiliano Hernandez)
Bryan Callen
Sam Sheridan
Fenroy (as Fernando Funan Chien)
Mark Bradford
Pilar Fernandez
Nick Lehane
Nick Lehane

Warrior (2011 film)

Warrior is a 2011 American sports drama film directed by Gavin O'Connor and written by O'Connor, Cliff Dorfman, and Anthony Tambakis. It stars Tom Hardy and Joel Edgerton as two estranged brothers whose entrance into a mixed martial arts tournament makes them come to terms with their lives and each other, and Nick Nolte as their alcoholic father; Jennifer Morrison and Frank Grillo also star.

The film was theatrically released in the United States on September 9, 2011, by Lionsgate. Although it grossed just $23 million against its $25 million production budget, the film received positive reviews from critics, and Nolte was nominated for an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor.


U.S. Marine Tommy Riordan visits his father, Paddy Conlon, a recovering alcoholic who has returned to his Catholic faith in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Tommy had to run away from Paddy with his dying mother when he was just a boy due to Paddy being an abusive alcoholic, and has never forgiven him. Paddy tries to convince him that he has changed, but to no avail. The next day, Tommy enters a gym where, in less than a minute, he knocks out a professional fighter named Pete "Mad Dog" Grimes, in a fight which is filmed with a cell phone and later uploaded to the internet, where it goes viral. Tommy learns about a winner-takes-all mixed martial arts tournament called Sparta in which the winner will receive $5 million. Tommy asks Paddy to help him train for the tournament, but only under the condition that Paddy does not try to reconcile their relationship.

Tommy's older brother Brendan, a high school physics teacher and former MMA fighter, is struggling to provide for his wife, Tess, and their two daughters. He had to mortgage his house in Philadelphia to pay for his younger daughter's open heart surgery, and is now in danger of losing everything. To increase his income, Brendan battles amateur fighters for money. Rumors of Brendan's secret life spread around the school, and the superintendent suspends him without pay. Later that night, Paddy comes over to meet up with Brendan in his driveway to try to reconcile with him, but to no avail. Before Paddy leaves, he tells Brendan that Tommy is back in town. Left with no other option, Brendan seeks the training of old friend Frank Campana and begins competing in smaller venue fights. After the fighter Frank planned to enter into the Sparta tournament is injured, Brendan convinces Frank to enter him as a replacement.

After arriving at the tournament, Brendan discovers that Tommy has also entered. It is revealed that Tommy is still angry at Brendan for staying behind for Tess when Tommy and their mother left Paddy; Tommy was left to care for their mother when she became terminally ill. Brendan claims that he could not help having been in love with Tess and that he has forgiven his father for the wrong he has done, but Tommy is unconvinced.

Meanwhile, the video of Tommy beating "Mad Dog" attracts the attention of a Marine whose life Tommy saved in Iraq. The Marine tells the press about Tommy's heroism, and Tommy becomes a national hero. Tommy's military records surface and reveal that he deserted after his entire unit was killed in a friendly fire bombing. Tommy had been using his mother's maiden name as his own surname in order to evade arrest for his desertion. He reveals to have pledged to give his winnings to the widow of one of his fallen friends. The military police will take him into custody but will wait until after the tournament is over.

Over two nights, Brendan and Tommy have contrasting fortunes: Tommy quickly and brutally knocks out opponents, while Brendan is outmatched physically but uses Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu to force grappling submissions. In the semi-final match, Brendan is matched up with undefeated Russian wrestler Koba, who dominates him in two rounds. In round three, Brendan swings for the fences, making the bout a back and forth battle. In the closing moments of the final round, Koba takes Brendan's back from the clinch and Brendan goes for a rolling kneebar. As Koba attempts to escape the position, Brendan quickly reverses and readjusts the kneebar narrowly winning by submission. Tommy meets Mad Dog Grimes in the semifinals, and Tommy once again knocks him unconscious almost immediately.

The night before the final day, Paddy attempts to talk to Tommy about his actions in Iraq. Tommy angrily dismisses his father, who relapses and starts drinking again. Seeing his terrible pain, Tommy calms and comforts him.

In the end the brothers are the last fighters remaining in the tournament. It is revealed to the world that the two men are brothers. Despite Brendan's desire to reconcile, Tommy shows no interest in doing so. Tommy wins the first two rounds, but Brendan eventually dislocates Tommy's shoulder with an omoplata arm-lock. As the fourth round starts, Brendan insists Tommy give up as Tommy only has use of one arm. As Tommy continues trying to knock Brendan out, Brendan unloads a barrage of strikes trying to end the fight. Tommy goads Brendan to continue hitting him as the fourth round ends. At the start of Round 5, Brendan refuses to fight, but Tommy persists. Brendan realizes he has to force him to submit, and he traps Tommy in a rear naked choke. As they struggle on the canvas, Brendan apologizes to Tommy and tells him that he loves him. After some hesitation, Tommy submits. The reconciled brothers exit the ring as their father looks on smiling.


  • Tom Hardy as Tommy Riordan Conlon
  • Joel Edgerton as Brendan Conlon
  • Nick Nolte as Paddy Conlon
  • Jennifer Morrison as Tess Conlon
  • Frank Grillo as Frank Campana
  • Kevin Dunn as Principal Joe Zito
  • Vanessa Martinez as Pilar Fernandez
  • Noah Emmerich as Dan Taylor
  • Denzel Whitaker as Stephon
  • Carlos Miranda as Tito
  • Charlie Smith as Leo
  • Maximiliano Hernández as Colt Boyd
  • Fernando Chien as Fenroy
  • Kurt Angle as "The Great" Koba
  • Erik Apple as Pete "Mad Dog" Grimes
  • Nate Marquardt as Karl "The Dane" Kruller
  • Anthony Johnson as Orlando "Midnight Black" Le
  • Roan Carneiro as Marcos Santos
  • Gavin O'Connor as J.J. Riley
  • Dan "Punkass" Caldwell as Himself
  • Timothy "Skyskrape" Katz as Himself
  • Bryan Callen as Himself
  • Sam Sheridan as Himself
  • Josh Rosenthal as Himself
  • Jake McLaughlin as Mark Bradford


Described by critics as "heartbreaking and emotionally satisfying", "really gripping", "an unapologetic powerhouse of emotional conflict" and self-described as a "rousing ode to redemption, reconciliation and the power of the human spirit", Warrior has received the most praise for the emotional approach it takes to the themes of forgiveness and "the enduring bonds of family" that it explores. In their review, Common Sense Media cites unconditional love as a major theme, further explaining that "some weighty issues" such as estrangement and alcoholism are also dealt with.


Mogul Minds Studios, (now 31st Street Studios), located in Pittsburgh, was used during the filming, as well as the University of Pittsburgh's Petersen Events Center and the Twin Hi-Way Drive-In. North Hills Senior High School was also used for some scenes. Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City was used for the exterior scenes of the main fight venue, along with scenes filmed on the boardwalk and beach.

Hardy went through a demanding training routine for gaining muscle during the film's pre-production, gaining around 28 pounds (13 kg) of muscle (a physique which he also used to portray Bane in The Dark Knight Rises).


The film was released in the United States on September 9, 2011.


The Men of Warrior book was released on July 19, 2011. Lionsgate's "We Are All Warriors" project to support the release of Warrior by highlighting everyday heroes was launched August 1, 2011.

Home media

Warrior was released on DVD and Blu-ray in the United States on December 20, 2011. The Blu-ray release includes a DVD copy of the movie, as well as a downloadable digital copy. With the exception of the Blu-ray including an additional Feature Length Enhanced Viewing Mode, extras are similar between both releases.


Box office

Warrior debuted in third place in its first week at the U.S. box office with $5.2 million behind Contagion and The Help. It dropped down to #8 the following weekend. Overall, the film made $13.7 million in United States and Canada, and $9.6 million in foreign countries for a worldwide total of $23.3 million.

Critical response

On Rotten Tomatoes the film has an approval rating of 83% based on 191 reviews, with an average score of 7.3/10. The site's critical consensus reads: "Warrior relies on many of the clichés that critics of the genre love to mock — and it transcends them with gripping action, powerful acting, and heart." On Metacritic the film has a weighted average score of 71 out of 100, based on reviews from 35 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews". Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A" on an A+ to F scale.

Bruce Diones of The New Yorker highly praised the actors' performances, especially Tom Hardy's, as "convincingly real" and "sensational." He further complimented the film as "cathartic" and "winning," and said that the film as a whole "achieves a surprising compassion and honesty." Simon Miraudo from Quickflix praised the character development of brothers Tommy Riordan and Brendan Conlon: "When they speak to each other for the first time in the film – amazingly, only once before they actually meet in the ring – we understand their relationship completely." He called the film as a whole "beautiful" in spite of how violent it is, and gave it 4 out of 5 stars. Common Sense Media's Sandie Angulo Chen called the film "a touching family drama wrapped in an intense 'David vs. Goliath'-style fight." Meanwhile, Roger Ebert gave the film 3 out of 4 stars, declaring that "this is a rare fight movie in which we don't want to see either fighter lose," while praising Gavin O'Connor's direction and Nick Nolte's performance. Peter Travers of Rolling Stone was also complimentary towards O'Connor, stating that he "comes out swinging in this flawed but fiercely moving family drama," while A.O. Scott of The New York Times credited the film for being "appropriately blunt, powerful and relentless," also praising the "skillfully staged" fight scenes.

Andrew Pulver of The Guardian rated the film 2 out of 5 stars stating, "This mixed-martial-arts fight movie has received bafflingly high praise considering its lunkhead plot and rudimentary characters".

Kirk Honeycutt of The Hollywood Reporter stated, "For an "entertainment," Warrior accomplishes a lot. The family drama resonates strongly with a resolution that, in retrospect, seems like the only way the brothers could have rediscovered blood ties."

Some critics, including Philip French from the UK magazine The Observer, have noted similarities to other sports drama films such as Rocky (1976), The Wrestler (2008), and The Fighter (2010).


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Warrior: Original Score
Soundtrack album by
Mark Isham
ReleasedSeptember 11, 2011
GenreFilm score
ProducerMark Isham

Warrior: Original Score is the soundtrack album for the film, composed and produced by Mark Isham. It was released by Lakeshore Records on September 13, 2011. The song "About Today" by the indie rock band The National was also featured on the soundtrack and also in the film during the final fight scene. The composition entitled "Listen to the Beethoven" incorporates elements of the final movement of Ludwig van Beethoven's ninth symphony, which is featured prominently throughout the film.


The film has been remade in Hindi Language as Brothers starring Akshay Kumar and Sidharth Malhotra in lead roles.

A film with the same title and similar plot was made in 2015 in Russia.